A frustration of recording is that after sound hits the tape – or hard drive, or wax cylinder, or minidisc – it immediately recedes into the past. It’s gone, a sonic event never to be recreated again. Remixes, mash-ups, and cover songs incessantly push the past to the fore, but it is notable that the thrill of live, spontaneous music is still a coveted experience despite the prolific advances of technology.
These thoughts continue to swim through my mind every time ‘A Static Place’ swirls through the air. Stephan Mathieu’s latest album extends much further back into music’s history and methodology than most are willing to venture, traversing entire centuries with a hushed, sculpted sound. The process at work is striking: he begins with very early 78 RPM records which contain music written hundreds of years ago from the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. These recordings are played through mechanical gramophones which date back to the 1930s before being captured by modern microphones and processed spectrally by a 21st century computer. Five different and singular musical eras are represented in music that comingles with a gauzy, impressionistic web of static to form a full hour of music that holds time at a distance, oddly undaunted by its pull.
Hear ‘Schwarzschild Radius’ below and order the CD at 12k.